13 The Diamond Eye Book Club Questions For Discussion

Mila Pavlichenko is a history nerd in Kyiv when suddenly, war explodes around her. 

She’s used to books, not bullets, but this girl is forced to trade her textbooks for a rifle. Turns out, she’s an amazing shot, like, really good. 

Before you know it, she’s one of the best snipers around.

They send Mila on a tour of America to get more people on their side, but she’s haunted by what she’s seen and lost. 

It’s lonely too. 

But then – plot twist! – she becomes friends with Eleanor Roosevelt, and even finds a connection with another sniper. 

Mila starts to find her way again.

…But wait! 

It wouldn’t be a thriller without some danger. Someone from Mila’s past who wants her dead shows up, and there’s trouble around every corner. 

Can she stay a step ahead?

Now in case you are wondering what I am saying is fact or fiction, here’s the thing – This story actually happened and a part of it is The Diamond Eye.

So, how about some book club questions on the novel to discuss it even further? 

Let’s check these out. 

The Diamond Eye Book Club Questions

The Diamond Eye Book Club Questions

  • Mila’s journey begins with a desire to overcome past mistakes and prove herself as both mother and patriot. How does her understanding of those roles evolve as a result of her wartime experiences? In what ways does her quest for precision in marksmanship both offer solace amidst chaos and become an obstacle in her search for personal fulfillment?

  • The novel explores how Mila’s image as “Lady Death” is both celebrated and challenged on political and gendered grounds. To what extent does Mila have genuine agency in how her image is used both at home and abroad? How do the experiences within her American tour shape her understanding of the differences in societal expectations for women in the US versus the Soviet Union?

  • Mila’s romantic relationships are deeply affected by war, from her failed marriage to Alexei, to her profound bonds with Kostia and Lyonya. How does the novel challenge the idea of a “conventional” wartime romance? Consider how Mila’s choices, in love and in duty, speak to finding strength and purpose under unimaginable duress.

  • The anonymous American sniper is driven by a warped sense of duty and misogyny. What does Quinn reveal about toxic masculinity through his attempts to discredit Mila’s skill and frame her for political assassination? How does his perspective contrast with Mila’s moral dilemmas about sharpshooting and her understanding of the enemy?

  • The novel’s epilogue hints that Mila will curate her own legacy by omitting certain truths from her memoir. Discuss the tension between crafting a public-facing persona for propaganda purposes and Mila’s right to privacy in deciding which traumas to share. Given the historical context, what additional pressures might she face as a woman choosing which parts of her story deserve to be known?

  • Mila’s friendship with Eleanor Roosevelt is a surprising yet important part throughout the book. How does this relationship change or challenge Mila’s worldview? In what ways, despite their different backgrounds, do the two women find common ground and offer one another support in the face of their respective challenges?

  • The novel includes perspectives from both Mila and her would-be assassin. How does Quinn utilize these contrasting viewpoints to explore broader ideas about the psychology of a sniper? Consider the factors that shape how they view themselves, their targets,  and their notions of duty.

  • Alexei represents both Mila’s early mistakes and the ongoing threat of male control. How does the novel trace the evolution of Mila’s power dynamic with him, especially as her fame grows?  In what ways does her success both liberate and complicate her ability to fully escape his influence?

  • Despite her success, Mila experiences profound loss, both personal and in witnessing the devastation of war. How does the novel portray the psychological toll her achievements take? What sacrifices for the greater good does Mila confront, and where does she draw the line on what she will endure?

  • “The Diamond Eye” blends historical figures with fictionalized plotlines. Discuss how Quinn navigates this balance. Can a work of fiction enhance our understanding of real events and people? To what extent is it important to distinguish between the two, especially when the source material is someone’s memoir?

  • Mila’s bonds with Lena, Kostia, Lyonya, Eleanor, and others provide her strength and stability amidst the war’s brutality.  How do wartime conditions shape these relationships? In what ways are the emotional bonds Mila forms acts of resistance and survival in themselves, defying the dehumanizing nature of combat?

  • Mila’s initial drive for perfection and self-control stems from her desire to counter earlier experiences of helplessness. How does her understanding of vulnerability evolve throughout the novel? Can you identify moments when accepting her grief or need for support becomes a form of strength?

  • The novel suggests that a “clean and simple” narrative often obscures the true cost of heroism for everyone involved, especially women. How does “The Diamond Eye” challenge traditional tales of wartime heroism? In what ways does the novel’s inclusion of difficult themes, like the assault on Maria Kabachenko or Mila’s own personal struggles, force a more nuanced understanding of the sacrifices made in war – by both soldiers and civilians?

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